Interview

Swag Masha on why it sold to My.Games and how it's carving out a space in the interactive fiction market

Swag Masha on why it sold to My.Games and how it's carving out a space in the interactive fiction market

Last month My.Games stepped into M&A mode to pick up Belarus-based studio Swag Mash for an undisclosed fee.

The developer has been working on interactive fiction title Love Sick: Interactive Stories, which has reached over three million players to date.

The two companies had worked together previously on the title, as My.Games provided funding for the project.

We caught up with Swag Masha MD Alexei Korneev, co-founders Dmitry Nikiforov and Kirill Nadezhdin, and My.Games investment division director Ilya Karpinsky to find out more about the deal and why the two companies are a good fit.

How did the initial partnership with My.Games come about and why did you decide to work with them?

Alexei Korneev: It’s no secret that My.Games is a big player in the mobile market. What caught our attention was their professional team that is ready to share their experience, as well as the financial opportunities they offer.

What we noticed next is that they (My.Games) think outside the box when it comes to investment – we did not have a large team, nor had we ever made interactive stories before Love Sick.

But we came with a raw demo supported by deep marketing research and a clear vision of what exactly we want. It was a match from the very beginning.

The interactive fiction space is becoming increasingly competitive, so what was the thinking behind developing Love Sick and how do you stand out?

Dmitry Nikiforov: It has to be said that we are fond of storytelling. We were hooked on the idea of interactive stories on mobile. It was fresh, convenient, and we saw that audiences like it and have a lot of fun.

It took us several years because creating stories always require a lot of effort, time and it has never been easy. For today, it’s really a competitive genre, but we’ve got a strong team and prepare new updates.

What lessons have you learned from launch and how have you been able to grow the game's revenue performance steadily since release?

Ilya Karpinsky: The interactive story genre is new for My.Games so we’ve learned a lot about its marketing specifics.

We’ve learned that interactive story games are not a simple sell and if you are thinking about it as easy money - you better pass!

The steady growth of Love Sick has been supported by regular content releases and updates, a constant tuning of how the game is monetised, and a superb marketing team.

You've grown the team quickly to 30 staff. Why grow the studio so quickly? Is this really the minimum-size team you need for a game like Love Sick?

Korneev: A game like Love Sick requires continuous development of content, which can be a demanding process.

In addition to the game’s growth, we now have people working on R&D for future games. The size of the team is a reflection of the successful growth of Swag Masha as a company.

Why sell to My.Games and what does this deal mean for the studio moving forward?

Karpinsky: Swag Masha will remain both operationally and creatively independent, but consolidation means closer integration with My.Games’ internal structures and access to more resources, both financial and administrative.

Can you share any details on the terms of the deal such as the cost?

Kirill Nadezhdin: We are very happy about becoming part of the My.Games family but would prefer not to disclose this information. With our plans for future launches in development, we are excited at what the future holds for us all as a team.

Mail.Ru (My.Games parent company) international business development director Stanislav Sychenkov will be a speaker at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki on October 1st and 2nd.


Senior Editor

Craig Chapple is Senior Editor of PocketGamer.biz and InfluencerUpdate.biz. He was previously Deputy Editor at Develop and Online Editor at Nintendo of Europe.

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